Her Majesty’s Inspectorate
For Education and Training in Wales
I welcome the opportunity to write this foreword, just over a year after I started as HM Chief Inspector of education and training in Wales. Education was devolved to Wales when the National Assembly for Wales was established in 1999, but the role of HM Chief Inspector of education in Wales dates back to 1907. Even then, the Welsh education system was distinct from that in England, with different historical roots, institutions and traditions, and the differences have grown since devolution. There is a clear desire for improvement within the Welsh education system today, with a growing confidence and maturity, and a newfound sense of collective endeavour.
Learners need to leave our schools and colleges equipped with higher skill levels than in the past. We need to build learners’ intellectual strengths, curiosity, creativity and resilience, including their high-order thinking skills of verbal, numerical and critical reasoning. And there is no doubting the importance of digital competence and confidence in underpinning future learning and skills.
Wales’ Foundation Phase has established sound fundamentals for the education of our youngest learners. More recently, Professor Donaldson has completed an independent review of the curriculum, Successful Futures, which provides the basis for future reform. The teaching profession will play a central part in the design and development of the new ‘made in Wales’ curriculum, fit for the twenty-first century.
The most disappointing feature of the Welsh education system over recent years has been its variability.
This variability is not due to socio-economic factors, as some of our best providers are in relatively deprived areas. We have an increasing proportion of excellent providers in Wales, but we also have providers that do not have high enough expectations and have weaknesses in their leadership and management. Local authorities, working with regional consortia (Wales’ school improvement services) need to intervene in these providers sooner, and we really need the recently proposed Wales Academy of Leadership.
As an inspectorate, we have reviewed our inspection arrangements. Our pilot inspection framework is leaner and designed to focus on fundamentals, while continuing to drive improvement and to encourage innovation. Over the coming year, we will pilot and consult further on our new arrangements to make sure that they are agile enough for this period of significant educational reform.